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With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility: Lancet Series on Sexual and Reproductive Health

According to a new series in Lancet, a well-respected, peer-reviewed, medical journal:

"Every year, 340 million new patients acquire gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, or trichomonas, more than 120 million couples have an unmet need for contraception, 80 million women have unintended pregnancies, and an estimated 19 million women undergo unsafe abortions; 70,000 of them die as a result."

There are cheap and effective ways to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, provide safe abortions, assist healthy pregnancies and delivery, and support children and families. With advances in medicine, access to health and education, why do these critical issues still threaten women's health? Politics. Clear and simple. Conservative ideology endangers women's health.

Yesterday, Lancet launched the new series on sexual and reproductive health worldwide. This study is based on the first ever global research of this kind – real data from researchers who took a fact-based approach to sexual and reproductive health and practices around the world.

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Let’s Talk About Right Wing Activist Courts: The Supreme Court Special Series

"Here we are coming down the stretch of an election campaign, and it's on the front page of your newspapers. Isn't that interesting," President George Bush replied when asked about Washington's most recent sex scandal.

By contrast, the Supreme Court had complete discretion in the scheduling of oral argument in two cases important to "pro-life" ideological extremists: the cases of Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood.

The cases are scheduled for hearing the day after the election. That, Mr. President, is interesting timing. Is this a little red state red meat, some right wing judicial activism to motivate the base, or mere coincidence? The scheduling of these cases make the Supreme Court's sharp right turn with Justices Roberts and Alito look blatantly political and activist.

RH Reality Check today begins a special series turning a spotlight on the issues that will be heard at the Supreme Court on November 8, explaining why these cases are political manipulations.

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When Was Your First Time?

Not to show my age, but my first time was 1996. It was great and made me feel like a responsible adult. Now, some people have taken offense to the ad below, but I don't think there's anything wrong with implying that voting is sexy. That's the beauty of feminism – it encompasses such a wide variety of perspectives – the main point is equality. And when it comes to voting, women haven't been stepping up equally with men. 20 million women did not vote in the last election, which means that they chose not to make a difference on reproductive health, among other issues.

[img_assist|nid=1354|title=Watch These Women Talk About Their First Time|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=400|height=325]

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Mujeres Votan


[img_assist|nid=1340|title=Mire el vídeo.|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=382|height=318]

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Send a Text Message for Reproductive Health?

While RH Reality Check likes to be ahead of the curve in terms of our use of technology, we certainly haven't mastered it all. We are glad to report about good use of technology for reproductive health advocacy, even when it isn't us.

Women's Voices, Women's Vote have been going at it hard this election season, trying to get out the female vote in America – 20 million eligible women didn't vote during the last election. And among their strategies? Besides releasing all of their TV ads on YouTube (like our friends at NARAL Pro-Choice America have done), they're making use of another increasingly popular technology: cell phone text messaging, or SMS.[img_assist|nid=1315|title=Click Here to Watch the Video|desc=|link=none|align=middle|width=640|height=505]

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20 Million Women

We have the power. We can make a difference. On issues like reproductive health – contraception, abortion, sexuality education, HIV & STI prevention, access to healthcare… the list goes on and on. Voting is important. But for some reason, 20 million women choose not to exercise that power. They don't act to make a difference.

The ad below is one in a series of Public Service Announcements by "Women's Voices. Women Vote." designed to reach these 20 million women, in the hope that in this critical upcoming election they will get out and vote.

[img_assist|nid=1339|title=Watch the PSA.|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=382|height=314]

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We Can Do Better Than Prop 85

Dr. Connie Mitchell is a nationally recognized expert on the health care of victims of violence and abuse. She serves on the AMA National Advisory Council on Violence and Abuse and is a member of the Board of Directors of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health.

I believe that the people who have financed and supported Proposition 85 are sincere, so I must ask: what do they really want? Decreased teenage abortion rates? More parental involvement with teens? Time to explore all the pros and cons of a decision regarding abortion? Whatever the real goals of Prop. 85, as Senator Clinton said in a recent phone message about this initiative: "We can do better."

If the goal of Prop. 85 is to reduce teenage abortion rates, we can do this a better way. Teen pregnancy and abortion rates are already declining in California. California was one of the first states to refuse federal funding for sex education, because educators wanted to ensure that young men and women in our state get complete information about their sexual health. If the backers of Prop. 85 really want to reduce teen pregnancy rates, they should help support legislation that requires and funds comprehensive sexuality education. We must also ensure that teens who do become sexually active – despite our concerns that their minds are not as mature as their bodies – have access to contraception. If they're not ready for sex, then by all means, they're not ready for a baby.

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New NARAL Ad Exposes Kyl’s Anti-Choice Record

Arizona Senator John Kyl has been attempting to hide his extreme views recently, but his anti-choice record is undeniable. According to Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America:

“Jon Kyl is one of the most rigid anti-choice senators in Washington and his actions have real consequences for women’s everyday lives. Arizona women need to know Kyl’s anti-choice record before they vote in November.”

Check out the new TV ad released by NARAL to highlight Kyl's opposition to abortion, even when a woman's health is at risk.[img_assist|nid=1312|title=Watch the New NARAL Ad Opposing Sen. Kyl|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=398|height=324]

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New Study Suggests Breast Cancer/Oral Contraception Link

A new study released this week suggests that there is a link, (a fairly significant-sounding link actually), between breast cancer and oral contraceptives. What the study has going for it is that it was published in the very legitimate, peer-reviewed journal Mayo Proceedings, from the Mayo Clinic. But while we are not inclined to question the integrity of the Mayo Clinic, we do think there are some serious questions to be considered about the report.

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Obama, Clinton, Rice, and McCain – ‘08 Can’t Wait

The "marble ceiling" that has kept women and people of color out of the highest offices of leadership in the land is crumbling, at long last. Much of the 2008 speculation has centered on Sen. Hillary Clinton and wondering if America is ready for a woman to be elected President. But long before 2008, Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi will ascend to third in line of succession to the Presidency. If conservatives are going to use the potential of Speaker Pelosi as a scare tactic to rally their base, then they will have to accept her election as an undeniable statement by "The People's House," that we are ready.

Breaking the marble ceiling may be about more than just women in 2008. Since most marble (in DC at least) is white, this historic moment now has pundits offering an arcane and false choice between America being ready for Madame President or a President of Color? Why not both?

Illinois Senator Barack Obama is one reason Democrats will regain the majority this midterm election, his pitch perfect message and American Dream story is one of healing, intelligence, faith and grace at a time of GOP dissembling, war, and vulgarity.

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